Let's face it, sometime within the next century or so, overpopulation, the exhaustion of natural resources, an alien invasion -- or perhaps the optimistic spirit of adventure -- will force us to leave Earth in search of a new habitat. Earlier this week, NASA and DARPA announced a preliminary "Hundred-Year Starship" program for sending pioneers on permanent missions to Mars. To many, relocation from Earth sounds like a glorified exile, but some retro-futuristic eye candy from the Popular Sciencearchives will surely change their minds.
Peering deep into the cosmos with its upgraded infrared camera last year, the Hubble Space Telescope was able to image a very deep region of the universe. Researchers didn’t realize it at the time, but after follow-up measurements by the ESO’s ground-based Very Large Telescope, a team of astronomers have determined that they’ve glimpsed the most distant object ever seen, some 13 billion light years away.
Your mom probably told you not to stare directly at the sun, but images like this one are hard to ignore. Captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) back on October 7, the image shows the moon passing between the observatory and the sun, marking the first time SDO has witnessed a lunar transit.
If NASA ever gets a clear directive for interplanetary exploration, a new Hundred-Year Starship could be their version of the Mayflower. And like the first pilgrims, Martian explorers might set sail with the knowledge they would never return home.
As evidenced by NASA’s confirmation last week of an asteroid collision observed by Hubble, there are plenty of objects careening around the solar system that we don’t know about. Some of these space rocks could do some serious damage if the Earth’s gravitational field ever pulls them in.
Veteran astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz has spent four decades developing his rocket fueled by nuclear reactors and liquid hydrogen. Now NASA just might let it fly
By Sam Howe VerhovekPosted 10.13.2010 at 3:10 pm 41 Comments
You might expect to find our brightest hope for sending astronauts to other planets in Houston, at NASA's Johnson Space Center, inside a high-security multibillion-dollar facility. But it's actually a few miles down the street, in a large warehouse behind a strip mall. This bland and uninviting building is the private aerospace start-up Ad Astra Rocket Company, and inside, founder Franklin Chang Díaz is building a rocket engine that's faster and more powerful than anything NASA has ever flown before. Speed, Chang Díaz believes, is the key to getting to Mars alive.
Back on August 22, elation mixed with anxiety as Chilean rescue authorities located 33 miners alive in a collapsed gold and copper mine, trapped more than 2,000 feet below the surface. "The 33 of us in the shelter are well," the miners scribbled on a note that they attached to the end of the rescue drill, but officials worried that it would take until Christmas to free the trapped men. Now, Christmas is coming early for the 33 miners and their families; Chilean authorities now say extraction of the men could commence as soon as tomorrow night.
Here's how it's going to go down.
The world’s leading space agencies are reportedly discussing the use of the International Space Station as a launch pad for a manned trip around the moon. The goal would be to test whether the station could be a base camp for missions to asteroids and Mars, the BBC reports today.
NASA is preparing a flurry of new spacecraft launches, planetary flybys and orbital insertions in the next two years, and is celebrating the "Year of the Solar System" to mark the occasion. Twenty-three months is actually a Martian year, so hey, it works.
The space agency has dozens of missions at any given time, and scientists are always maneuvering some spacecraft into a new orbit or into a new trajectory. But the next two years will see triple the usual amount of activity, NASA says. The second half of 2011 will be as busy, space-wise, as entire decades of the space age, according to Jim Green, NASA's planetary science director.
As a general rule, when NASA flies a scientific mission all the way to Mars, we expect that mission to last for a while. For instance, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were slated to run for three months and are still operating 6 years later. But one NASA engineer wants to send a mission all the way to the Red Planet that would last just two hours once deployed: a rocket-powered, robotic airplane that screams over the Martian landscape at more than 450 miles per hour.